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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

9M729 - SSC-8

Russia has deployed a cruise missile in violation of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, complicating Trump's approach to Russia. Michael Gordon writing in the New York Times reported 14 February 2017 that "... the Russians now have two battalions of the prohibited cruise missile. One is still located at Russia’s missile test site at Kapustin Yar in the country’s southeast. The other was shifted in December from that test site to an operational base elsewhere in the country... Each missile battalion is believed to have four mobile launchers and a larger supply of missiles."

The INF Treaty defines an intermediate-range missile as a ground-launched ballistic missile (GLBM) or GLCM having a range capability in excess of 1,000 km [about 540 nm] but not in excess of 5,500 km [2969.762 nm, but this is too precise, 3,000 nm is better]. The Treaty defines a shorter-range missile as a GLBM or GLCM having a range capability equal to or in excess of 500 km [270 nm] but not in excess of 1,000 km. A GLCM is defined as a ground-launched cruise missile that is a weapon delivery vehicle.

Russia is committed to its obligations under the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty), Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said 09 March 2017. His remarks came after the Vice Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Paul Selva told Congress the previous day that Russia violated the "spirit and intent" of the INF pact by deploying a banned land-based cruise missile.

The treaty, signed by American and Soviet leaders in 1987, prohibits both countries from testing, producing and possessing land-based intermediate-range missiles. It was deemed as a cornerstone of global arms control and helped end the Cold War. "Russia fully complies with the INF treaty, although it does not totally meet our interests," Peskov was quoted by RIA Novosti as saying. Viktor Ozerov, chairman of the defense committee of Russia's upper house of parliament, said Russia strictly observes the arms control treaty and called the repeated U.S. accusations groundless. "Let them present the facts of these violations. We have heard enough baseless conversations lately," Ozerov said.

The 9M729 is by some accounts a variant of the 9M728 missiles, and its improved version - an extended-range missile - a new land-launched "Garnet." The 9M729 SSC-X-8 is a long-range ground-based cruise missile system. According to Western reports, the rocket is a land version of the SS-N-30 3M14 missile complex "Caliber-NK" and developed OKB "Innovator" (Ekaterinburg). From the report of the 2014 GosNIIP - "management system for 9M728 / 9M729 missiles and its improved version" has passed state tests.

The missile’s assessed range is between 300 miles and 3,400 miles — the distance covered under the landmark INF treaty that banned an entire class of intermediate-range missiles. The missile is made by the normal aerodynamic scheme with wings folded in the fuselage of the missile in the transport position. The missile is equipped with a starting solid propellant, which fires after the launch. The control system and guidance of the cruise missile is presumably inertial control system (autopilot) with Doppler sensors drift angle correction according to satellite navigation systems GLONASS and GPS. At the final stage it may use active radar homing.

There is speculation that the missile is a surface option CBRC X-101 with a range of over 5,500 km [about 3,000 nm]. Creation and testing of such missiles in the ground form is recognized by Western observers in violation of the Treaty on the Reduction of INF, which was signed in 1987 between the Soviet Union and the United States.

The operational tactical or strategic rationale for a missile with a range of 3,000 nautuical miles is difficult to understand. If launched from Moscow, it would provide coverage of all Western Europe [but surely there is no lack of coverage of this area], and if fired from the Eastern extremity of Siberia, coverage would extend along the US West coast down to Los Angeles. Neither of these coverage areas seem particularly interesting, so the new missile may simply represent unbridled technological exuberance, or complete indifference to the musty INF Treaty.


The United States determined that the cruise missile developed by Russia meets the INF Treaty definition of a ground-launched cruise missile with a range capability of 500 km to 5,500 km, and as such, all missiles of that type, and all launchers of the type used or tested to launch such a missile, are prohibited under the provisions of the INF Treaty. As was the case in previous years, in 2015, the United States again raised concerns with Russia on repeated occasions in an effort to resolve U.S. concerns. The United States will continue to pursue resolution of U.S. concerns with Russia.

The Treaty Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Elimination of Their Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles (INF Treaty) was signed by President Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev on December 8, 1987, and entered into force on June 1, 1988. Elimination of all declared missiles and launchers under the Treaty was completed in 1991. The Treaty is of unlimited duration and bans the possession, production, and flight testing of intermediate- and shorter-range missile systems. The Treaty required complete elimination of all the approximately 800 U.S. and approximately 1,800 former Soviet ground-launched missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers, their launchers, and their associated support equipment and structures. All such items were eliminated by May 28, 1991.

During the Cold War, both the United States and Soviet Union developed and deployed nuclear-tipped Air Launched Cruise Missiles [ALCM] and Sea Launched Cruise Missiles [SLCM]. Discounting the large inter-continental systems of the 1950s, But only the United States developed and deployed nuclear tipped Ground Launched Cruise Missiles [GLCM]. The Soviet-era nuclear ALCMs and SLCMs are comparable in size and mass to the shorter range conventional land attack Klub SS-N-27 Sizzler 3M14E missile has a range of approximately 300km when launched from a ship and is subsonic. Five types of missiles - 3M-54E, 3M-54E1, 3M-14E, 91RE1 and 91RE2 - have been developed for the Club system.

Robert M. Gates, Chairman, National Intelligence Council, and Deputy Direc­tor for Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, testified before the Senate Committee on Armed Services and the Committee on Appropriations on 26 June 1985 that "The ALCM is the first in a series of deployments of long-range,land-attack cruise missiles. Over the next 10 years, we expect them to deploy 2,000 to 3,000 nuclear-armed ALCM's, sea-launched cruise missiles [SLCM's], and ground-launched cruise missiles [GLCM's]. The deployment of cruise missiles provides the Soviets with newmultidirectional capabilities against U.S. targets."

A GLCM would certainly have generated the most acute anxiety in Europe. Although the SS-20 and Backfire were already viewed as adding a disturbing and qualitatively different dimension to the Soviet nuclear threat to Europe, yet another element in the Soviet long-range nuclear arsenal would seen menacing indeed. Initially there was some speculation that the Soviets might attempt to use their emerging GLCM program as a bargaining chip, protecting their basic military requirement for SS-20s by insisting on trading Soviet GLCMs against NATO GLCMs, but this nevery happened. Based on the RK-55 Granat cruise missile, the SSC-X-4 SLINGSHOT GLCM variant was was destroyed in compliance with INF disarmament negotiations prior to reaching operational status.

Russian media have reported since 2005 that the country was considering withdrawing from the INF treaty, signed by the United States and Soviet Union in 1987. In June 2013, Kremlin chief of staff Sergei Ivanov implied that the treaty benefits the US more than Russia, saying that the US faces no regional threats to its security. “The Americans have no need for this class of weapon, they didn’t need it before and they don’t need it now,” Ivanov told state news channel Rossiya-24. “They could theoretically only attack Mexico and Canada with them, because their effective radius doesn’t extend to Europe.”

President Barack Obama informed Russian President Vladimir Putin in a letter on 28 July 2014 of the United States' determination that Russia violated the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. The US said Russia tested a new ground-launched cruise missile, breaking the INF treaty that President Ronald Reagan signed with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest on 29 July 2014 accused Russia of violating the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. “The United States has determined, according to an intelligence analysis, that the Russian Federation is in violation of its obligations under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF),” he stated at a press briefing in Washington.

Ernst stated that Russia had violated the treaty’s obligations “not to possess, produce or flight-test a ground-launched cruise missile with a range capability of 500 kilometers to 5,500 kilometers or to possess or produce launchers of such missiles.... It is a very serious matter which we have attempted to address with Russia for some time now. The United States is committed to the viability of the INF Treaty. It is our view that the INF Treaty – and agreements that are part of it – are in the broad national security interest of every party that has agreed to that treaty,” he said. “This is a serious concern that we have raised with the Russians on a number of occasions through our standard diplomatic channels” he noted.

In January 2014 the United States notified NATO allies of Russian tests of a new missile that could be in violation of a nuclear disarmament treaty. The weapon, a ground-based cruise missile, had allegedly been tested repeatedly since 2008 and was considered by senior US officials to have clearly violated the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

Some experts believe that the cruise missile in question is the R-500; derived from the Iskander-K, using the same TEL carrier vehicle and control system as the the Iskander-M ballistic missile, but armed with a turbojet-powered cruise missile. Development of a new missile might be an effort to ensure nuclear parity with China, which is not a signatory to the treaty and within range of such weapons.

Daryl Kimball, head of the Arms Control Association, the private research organization, said “There are some in Russia’s defense establishment who are itching to find ways to either get around or break out of the INF treaty so that Russia can counter these other kinds of short and medium-range ballistic missile opponents.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry dismissed US accusations of violating the Soviet-era intermediate-range nuclear treaty. "These statements are as ungrounded as all other Washington’s claims against Moscow that have been voiced recently,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “No supporting evidence has ever been provided,” the statement said. The ministry also stressed that Russia had its own complaints about the US compliance with the INF treaty. The ministry has criticized Washington’s plans to deploy the MK 41 VLS launching systems in Poland and Romania as part of the “phased adaptive approach” for missile defense. “These launching systems are capable of launching cruise missiles of medium-range cruise missiles and their ground version may be considered as a direct violation of the INF treaty,” the statement said.

The ministry said "... we have accumulated a considerable amount of complaints to [be addressed to] the US in the framework of the treaty. In particular, on target missile defense tests similar in characteristics to the short- and intermediate-range missiles and the manufacturing of armed drones, which meet the treaty's definition of ground-launched cruise missiles”.

Brian P. Mckeon Principal Deputy Under Secretary Of Defense For Policy, testified before the House Committee On Armed Services Subcommittee On Strategic Forces And Committee On Foreign Affairs Subcommittee On Terrorism, Nonproliferation, And Trade December 1, 2015 "Our determination on the INF Treaty violation has not changed since we first announced the violation in July 2014. There has been some speculation about what missile the United States is referring to and whether we have mistaken its testing for a treaty-compliant sea-based cruise missile. The evidence is conclusive. Russia has tested this ground-based system well into the ranges covered by the INF Treaty. We are talking about a real system and not a potential capability. Since determining that Russia is in violation of its INF Treaty obligations, our objective has been to preserve the viability of the INF Treaty by convincing Russia to come back into compliance with those obligations....

"... the Joint Staff conducted a military assessment of the threat posed by Russia if it were to deploy an INF Treaty-prohibited ground-launched cruise missile in Europe or the Asia-Pacific region. The assessment tells us that the deployment of such a system by the Russian Federation would increase the risk to our allies and an indirect threat to the United States.... the Administration determined that we needed to consider Russian actions with regard to the INF Treaty in the context of its overall aggressive and bellicose behavior that flouts international legal norms and destabilizes the European security order. Russia is not violating the INF Treaty in isolation from its overall aggressive behavior."

Rose E. Gottemoeller, Under Secretary of Arms Control and International Security, testified at the same hearing "Since 2013, we have raised with Russia our serious concerns regarding conduct that we ultimately determined to be a violation of the INF Treaty and have held senior-level and technical-expert level bilateral discussions with the aim of returning Russia to verifiable compliance with its Treaty obligations. Throughout the course of this year, we have raised this issue with Russian officials on repeated occasions and at various levels and departments within the Russian government in an effort to resolve U.S. concerns. We have made very clear that this is not a technicality, a one-off event, or a case of mistaken identity, but a serious Russian violation of one of the most basic obligations under the INF Treaty. Russian officials have denied violating the Treaty and told us the issue was closed. We do not accept this response."

A Russian announcement by GosNIIP, the design bureau that builds guidance for cruise missiles, stated that that Russia had completed state acceptance trials of the ground-based 9M729: "An important outcome of the works that were carried out with great intensity with the best forces of the Institute - the completion of State tests of products ZM54 and ZM14 Naval complex and the beginning of the serial deliveries of these products with our management systems design and manufacture. Completed state testing and automated control systems these systems. Complex automated preparation of flight assignments for these products pass inter-institutional test. An equally important milestone in our lives was the completion of State testing ground-based complex 9M728, 9M729 and its upgraded version. They are equipped with control system of our Institute."

According to Western reports, the missile tests have been conducted since 2008. Apparently, in 2014 completed state tests 9M729 missiles and its improved version. In 2016, it was planned to producre 8-7930 chassis MZKT to build 4 STC and 4 TPM at the facilities of the CDB "Titan" (Volgograd). Presumably, these STC and TPM will go for tests and trial operation in the 630th missile battalion (Kapustin Yar). Accordingly, there is an assumption that the complex and facilities of the complex are a modification of the missile system "Iskander-M" with enhanced details of which were unknown ( as of March 2016).

The rocket name "9M729" was originally taken from different foreign sources. And confirmed the message of congratulations on the 70th anniversary of the Russian Ministry of Defense GTSMP 4 (Kapustin Yar, March 2016) by the General Designer of OKB "Innovator" Paul Kamneva: "Your team is making a significant contribution to the development of missile systems of different class in the same time we were convinced. repeatedly in tests such missiles as the 9M82, 9M82MD, 9M83, 9M728,9M729, 77N6-H, MN-300, 53T6".

On 02 September 2015 came the first launch of the rocket SSC-X-8 the date of which was specified exactly.

3M14 missile variant X-101 variant missiles
Length 8 m (with booster) 8 m or more (with booster)
Case Diameter 533 mm 0.8 m
Wingspan 3m 4.4 m (estimated)
Mass not less than 2300 kg not less than 2,700 kg (with booster)
Weight warhead 400-500 kg 400-500 kg
Range No more than 5500 km
  • 2000-2500 km (assessment)
  • More than 5,500 km (on the basis of going beyond the limit of the INF Treaty)
  • speed 180-240 m / s (figures in 3M14 missiles)about 200 m/s
    height of flight 50-150 m (figures in 3M14 missiles)

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